Tuesday, May 02, 2006

H5N1: Let us learn from Vietnam's success

New Zealand's source for World News on Stuff.co.nz: Vietnam to unveil advanced plan to fight bird flu

Vietnam, the country hardest-hit by avian flu but free of the disease for six months, will present a model plan on containing the virus at an Asia-Pacific conference next week, international officials said.

The "Green Book" outlines medium- and long-term strategies for fighting the deadly H5N1 strain of the virus among people and animals to help prevent a global pandemic.

It includes poultry and livestock production reforms, public awareness campaigns and tighter border controls to prevent illegal poultry trade... The H5N1 virus struck poultry and people in the Southeast Asian country of 83 million in late 2003. Vietnam, with 42 deaths out of 93 human cases reported, has the highest casualty rate but it has not had a human case of H5N1 since November. In recent weeks, neighbours Cambodia and China have reported infections in people and poultry.

The draft five-year plan will be presented at the 21-nation Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) avian flu meeting of ministers of agriculture and health in the central Vietnam city of Danang from May 4-6.

After nearly two years of using mainly culling to control the virus, the Communist government last year adopted a combination of mass poultry vaccination, disinfecting, culling, information campaigns and bans on live poultry in cities.

Hans Troedsson, the UN's World Health Organisation representative in Vietnam, said the plan was "technically sound" but could not be copied or used as a blueprint by every country.

Maybe not copied and pasted, Hans, but the WHO should definitely be looking with all due humility oat the facts of the Vietnamese case. Note especially that they stopped culling and started vaccinating, and they cut down on the poultry trade, which is now thought to be more of a risk for spread than wild bird migration. As an island, therefore, the UK could keep H5N1 Avian out if we stop bird imports.

Byt DEFRA is in charge, and DEFRA is short for DEaF to Reasoned Argument.

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